3.6. Watching TV on a PC
TV sets make lousy PC monitors , but PCs and their displays make great TV sets. In fact, some PCs already include a TV tuner that lets them double as high-quality TV sets. If you're not lucky enough to own one of those fancy models, though, upgrading your PC to display television rarely merits the cost, for several reasons.
First, most PCs have small, 15-or 17-inch monitors that are usually parked in front of a single chaira far cry from the living room's big TV, comfy couch , and nearby popcorn maker.
Second, adding TV to a PC costs between $50 and $150that's more cash than it takes to pick up some new TVs. Finally, TV-equipped PCs can record shows to your hard drive, but they lack the finesse of dedicated TV recorders like TiVo or Replay TV ($100 to $250), which automatically record shows according to your tastes.
So, why bother? Some upgraders don't own TVs or don't want to buy a second one for their offices. Others want to record shows, but despise paying the monthly dues required by TiVo or ReplayTV. Some newshounds want CNN sitting in a corner of their desktop. And some folks simply like to tinker with their PCs.
Your PC needs two things to morph into a TV:
To switch between channels 2 through 99, load the software bundled with your PC TV tuner. The software places a little keypad on your screen for switching between channels with the mouse or keyboard's numeric keypad.
Note: To tune in channels above 99including pay channelsconnect the splitter after the cable leaves your cable/satellite box. That lets the cable box unscramble the signals before routing them to your PC, which then displays the signal on channel 3 or 4. Unfortunately, this also means you need to use the cable box's remote to change channels.